On The Move: Tips for Families to Minimize Stress When Moving

This post is brought to you by Northwood Realty Services and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own. When I think of the most stressful times in my life, moving easily trickles to the top of that list. Yes, even our wedding day or having twins is beat by the times I’ve moved. Is there really a way to minimize stress when moving?

Minimize Stress When Moving

The thing is, I’ve moved a lot in my life. Moving kind of was my “thing” for a long time. It didn’t bother me in the least, probably because I grew up moving every three to four years as a preacher’s kid. It became part of my blood, something I expected. But just because it was my “norm” doesn’t mean it was easy.

In the time that Greg and I have been together, I’ve moved five times (back to Pittsburgh, down the street to our first rental together, to our first house, to my parents’ for an interim stay between our closings, and to our current – and hopefully forever – home). That’s a lot in a span of eight years, and every one of them was with kids, four of them with dogs. You try to hold it together and keep your sanity so the kids don’t get all worried about the move, but it’s nearly impossible when you’re dealing with schedules and rental trucks and trying not to break precious household items. (And sometimes when you add being pregnant to the mix, it’s just 100x more stressful!)

Luckily, I recently found out that the things I worry about when moving aren’t things that I make up in my head. If you’ve ever had to move (or buy or sell a home), you’ve likely felt these same things. At least that was the case when I got the chance to sit down and talk with fellow Pittsburgh-area bloggers and Northwood Realty Services about the huge life event of moving. We talked about our experiences and personal challenges then came up with ways to minimize stress when moving as a family.

Families on the Move: Tips to Minimize Stress for Moving

Okay, so you’re ready to move from your current home and into your dream home. What gets packed first? What do you pack last? Who do you have help sell the home? Who will be there on moving day? Before you start to fret, here is a list of tips that Northwood Realty Moms (both Realtors who are moms and mom bloggers) came up with to make it less stressful:

Can you tell which tips resonated with me? Here they are:

  • Time house showings for when you know your house will already be empty. We did this when we sold our home in Tarentum – put the sign up in the yard then booked it for Aruba. Thing is, we left Greg’s mom and dad to handle the Bigs and the Dogs for a slew of showings that happened while we were away. Maybe all the family should go on vacation!
  • Make your new house a home. First thing Missy and I did when the guys were off getting the last load of things from my brother’s garage (in our current home) was set up Arianna and Evan’s rooms. I then texted my mom a picture so the kids could see – their beds and packed away special friends were waiting for them to arrive the next day!
  • Don’t overlook selling over the holidays. We didn’t buy or sell over the holidays, but in both I was able to envision the Christmas tree. I can’t even begin to imagine how amazing both would have looked trimmed for the season and how much more in love with them I would have been (if that is possible).
  • Help ease transition to a new school. Arianna went to three different schools her kindergarten year. If she wasn’t such a resilient kiddo, there’s no way I would have embarked on that! We would have moved in the summer or at the end of Christmas break. Hands down. (Next time we move will be after the Twins graduate! HA!)

Families on the Move

So moving with kids (or babies in the womb) isn’t the easiest, but there are plenty of stories from the women who contributed to this infographic – we’ve all survived and I think most of us would do it again for the right house at the right time. I’m not suggesting that Greg and I up and move again anytime soon (our family and friends who bear the load when we move are thanking me), but I know that if the time comes again we’re seasoned and will make it through.

Have you or your family ever moved? What tips and tricks would you add to this list (including buying/selling ideas) to minimize stress when moving?

About Northwood:

  • Northwood Realty Services is one of the region’s largest real estate service providers, serving customers across 30 counties from 39 offices in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.
  • Since 1956, Northwood has earned a reputation for integrity, accountability and hard work. Guided by these principles and a desire to serve others, Northwood provides its clients with full-service real estate solutions that cover every step of the buying and selling process.

Wildlife Wednesday: Attack of the Mayflys!!!

The kids and I were coming home on a particularly balmy Friday evening last week and drove into what looked like a scene from a horror movie. As we crossed the bridge into town, we noticed a dense fog ahead. As we got closer, the fog seemed to dance…it was alive and all of a sudden it engulfed our van. What appeared to be a supernatural weather event, was in fact an enormous Mayfly swarm!

 

Mayflys are harmless winged insects which actually spend the majority of their lives on the bottom of lakes and rivers feeding on algae. Then, as if on a timer, they grow wings, emerge, and swarm together. In a matter of a few days they will molt (shed their skin), mate, then lay eggs and die. We were lucky enough to stumble across this incredible display of nature, so of course we had to stop and check it out!

Some of my local folks may have actually been down at riverfront park enjoying movie night, so you probably experienced this first hand. We parked behind a vehicle which was directly underneath a street light and was absolutely covered in mayflys! They were definitely attracted to light.  I was in awe at the sheer number of insects. The sound of thousands of wings was incredible. There was also a notable “crunch” as cars ran them over.

 

Evan and I decided to get a closer look and wandered underneath some of the lights. We were immediately covered in mayflys. It is definitely not a feeling for the squeamish. I fought back a slight panic as they began flying down my shirt and up my shorts. I have heard that if you are lucky, you may actually have one land on you and molt, leaving behind a perfect shadow of its former self.

It’s kind of beautiful and sad if you think about it. These creatures, as well as many other animals, basically live for one purpose, reproduction. It reminds me of the Salmon run. Animals so driven by a primal instinct to perpetuate their species, knowing that they may never even reach their goal, but pushing forward nonetheless.

Mayfly swarms, or hatches as they are often called, are a good sign; they are an indicator that despite what I may think, our river is actually pretty clean and the eco system is healthy. I feel honored to have witnessed such a miracle of nature, thankful that I was able to share such wonder with the kids, and hopeful that the mayflys will be around to invade our shores for years to come.

Until next time, happy herping ya’ll!

 

Wildlife Wednesday: Clear Creek revisited

After our last visit to Clear Creek State Park, we brought some tadpoles home so the kids could observe their incredible transformation into frogs. My plan is to eventually build a permanent wildlife pond in our backyard so that we can have a nice suitable environment for critters, year round. For now, our tadpoles have set up residence in the kids’ turtle sandbox. It’s not perfect but they seem to like it.

After a hot week with no rain, the water in the frog pond was getting dangerously low for our pollywogs so a return trip for fresh water was in order. Now you may be asking, why not just fill it with the garden hose? Well, one does not simply fill a frog pond with just any H2O. The water we drink and the stuff that keeps amphibians alive are a bit different. The chlorine and chloramine that makes water safe for us to drink would be a death sentence to a frog or salamander. They do make water conditioning products which can treat tap water to make it safe for animals, or you can use distilled water; but if we’re being honest, we really just wanted to get a bit more exploring in.

When we arrived at the park, the kids were begging to go to the swimming area. There is a creek fed pond that has a beach section, so we stopped to take a look around. On the way down to the water, there is an educational sign about Northern Water Snakes which actually came in handy.

Before the kids waded into the frigid water, we took some time to walk around the perimeter of the pond. There were children across the pond in the midst of their own creature quest, and I couldn’t help but smile. It is always great seeing the next generation taking an interest in nature. As I admired their spirited search, I had almost forgotten about our own until Evan yelled “SNAAAAKE!!!”. I looked down at the water to see a gorgeous water snake searching for crayfish among the rocks. I waded in and grabbed its tail just as the head dove under a large rock. It squirmed and tried to wedge itself further under the rock. Finally, so as not to injure the reptile, I lifted the rather heavy mini-boulder off of the serpent and it came writhing free. I brought it onto land and the kids from across the pond spotted us and came dashing over.

As I held the snake, the kids took turns petting it and asking questions. One little girl congratulated me on catching it. I told them about the sign and pointed out how easily they can be mistaken for other snakes. This one specifically was a brilliant copper and brownish pattern, which I could definitely see being confused for a copperhead. They then showed me some of the creatures they had discovered. After awhile I decided it was time to release the snake back to search its dinner.

When we got to the other side of the pond, we noticed the water was teeming with great big tadpoles! They were much larger and more elusive than the tadpoles that we caught on our last visit.

As we dragged our nets along the weedy bank, we came up with dozens of salamander larvae in different stages of life. I have always had a love for salamanders, being one of the few species of amphibian that I did not come across very often growing up. Now, to see them so abundantly is amazing!

Swimming along with the tadpoles were several Eastern Newts, another species I never thought I would see in such prolific numbers. One animal I rarely had trouble finding were crayfish, or craw-dads as we called them. These little guys are so much fun to watch!

Once we had exhausted our search area and caught a sufficient number of specimens, the kids finally got to play at the beach while I took our critters to the van. Once those crazy kids had adequately frozen themselves, we decided to head over to the frog pond to get water before going home. After filling several containers, I noticed a cute little wood frog hopping through the grass around the pond. These frogs are pretty amazing! They can survive in some pretty harsh environments and even freeze over the winter. These particular frogs are not actually aquatic, they live mainly in leaf litter in the forest, but do congregate near water during mating season.

My little explorers were so pleased with our adventure, they really did not want to leave! Fortunately, we brought a little bit of the great outdoors home with us so they can explore any time. We even caught something I have never seen before, which is in the beginning of the video below. Hit up our comments section if you know what it is!

Keep checking in for updates on the happenings around our frog pond, there’s sure to be some exciting developments! Until next time, happy herping, ya’ll!!

Wildlife Wednesday: Barking Slopes

(*articles may contain affiliate links*) Today’s Wildlife Wednesday is taking a little different spin – it’s brought to you by Becky instead of Greg! I’ll be honest, I really don’t love bugs and creatures, but when my work went to volunteer at Barking Slopes (part of the Allegheny Land Trust), I found something I truly enjoyed.

Where is Barking Slopes?

Barking Slopes is located at 37 Barking Road, New Kensington, PA. It is near the Oakmont Country Club and Lock & Dam Number 3. It’s right across the river from where the town my mom went to high school in and a few miles from our first home in Tarentum. Basically, I was volunteering in my “stomping grounds”, so maybe that made it another level of cool for me.

Know if you go: There is a parking lot on Barking Road with a porta-john. Right now, the trail is steep and a bit muddy. It’s a challenging hike, but so beautiful you won’t notice. Follow the blue arrows (like those below) and you’ll go about .75 miles into the wooded area. You can walk back on the gravel road along the railroad, too.

barking slopes trail marker

What did we do at Barking Slopes?

My work team did one of our corporate volunteer days and helped Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) clear the trail so it is more accessible. The day involved using weed whips (like this one) and clippers to trim back the trail’s overgrowth. There was a bunch of Japanese Knotweed and Stinging Nettle that made the path unrecognizable. That’s not the case anymore!

stinging nettle
This is stinging nettle. If you brush up against it, you will get little bumps that itch for about 15 minutes. Ouch!

We also carried rocks to make paths through some of the muddier areas, too. (Caitlin, our guide from ALT, had to note that if anyone did crossfit, this was a good task for them!). (wink)

Even though we were dealing with plants and rocks and trees, I really didn’t see any bugs or snakes or creepy crawlies to tell you about like Greg normally does. (Sorry if you came here for that!) But, what I did see was a lot of different birds. Caitlin noted that birdwatchers like to go there and have seen dozens of bird species.

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To learn more about Barking Slopes, check out Allegheny Land Trust‘s website. The more people that get out there, the more packed down the trail will be and the more enjoyable it will be for everyone. Let us know if you go out there and what you think!

Wildlife Wednesday: Clear Creek

On Memorial Day we decided to take the kids and join our friends for a day of fun at Clear Creek State Park. Of course the kids and I couldn’t pass up a chance to discover some cool critters, so we brought our nets and buckets along. I have to say, this was one of my favorite outings yet!

After lunch, the kids and I took our friend Tom for a walk along the creek. There had been heavy rains so the water level was pretty high and my expectations for finding many animals was rather low. We walked around a nice little “tide pool” that the rains had produced and noticed a few frogs jump in. As I was attempting to track one down, I noticed a decent size crayfish at the bottom of the pool. With a quick swish of the net we got our man. The kids were understandably a bit timid around this guy’s hefty pincers.

It was a beautiful day for exploring and all four kids got into the action! They chased little bugs in the grass and splashed their hands in the shallow water of the creek, trying to grab water striders and diving beetles. They even chased each other around, trying to capture their siblings in their nets. I love watching them play together!

When we returned to the tide pool, Evan saw a frog jump in and pointed to the spot it burrowed into the mud. I carefully dug my net around the area he indicated and hauled in a pile of mud. Deep within the murky slop was a gorgeous Green Frog.

In between catching things, Ava was a big help; as we walked she carried all of the nets for us. She was so proud of her job!

At one point I went back down the bank to grab another bucket, so as not to mix the crayfish with the frog, and as I walked through some tall grass a cute little garter snake slithered by. I can’t pass up a good garter snake sighting and the kids absolutely love them! I love my little explorers so much!

After awhile we walked across the street to a small ditch running parallel to the creek. It was full from the rain, but other than a few out of reach frogs, there was not much happening. We continued to follow the ditch until we walked through a patch of trees and the ditch opened up to what I consider, the most perfect little pond.

It was so serene and calm, but as we approached, we found that there was much more going on just below the surface!

There were thousands upon thousands of tadpoles wriggling all about! The water was alive and so crystal clear, you could see everything going on in this amphibian’s paradise! There were still jelly egg clumps where the tadpoles had hatched. I loved watching tadpoles turn into frogs as a kid, so I knew we had to bring some home with us. As we scooped up the tiny little pollywogs, something moving in the weeds caught my eye. There, crawling through the vegetation was the prettiest little Eastern Newt!

Once we had our tadpoles and Newt in hand, we called it a day and went back to spend some time with mommy before leaving. When we got them home and into a new bigger container, I noticed a few small minnow like animals with gills wriggling in the water. Turns out that these are Newt larvae; newly hatched newts! So cool!

We had a blast checking out the wildlife that Clear Creek State park had to offer and will surely be back again soon! If you are ever in the area, be sure to check it out! Until next time, happy herping, ya’ll!

Wildlife Wednesday: Snakes

Snakes are some of the most misunderstood and mistreated animals in the world. I think it is safe to say that when most people are asked what animal they are afraid of, snakes are at the top of the list. This is unfortunate considering the ratio of venomous to nonvenomous snakes the average human will encounter in their life.

Snakes
Notice the round eyes on this Eastern Garter snake.

Throughout the US, there are something like 129 different species of snakes, but only 21 are venomous. Here in Pennsylvania we have 21 species, with only 3 being venomous. In this post I am going to share the most common snakes you will encounter and how to determine whether they are venomous or not. 

The Northern Water snake is often mistaken for the Cottonmouth or even Copperhead, however the Cottonmouth does not live in Pennsylvania.

For the venomous side of things, the snakes you may observe are various species of rattlesnake, the cottonmouth(water moccasin), the copperhead, and the coral snake. All except the coral snake are considered “pit vipers” which means that they have heat sensing “pits” between the eyes and nostrils on either side of their head. When determining whether a snake is dangerous or not, all pit vipers have the same characteristics. Aside from the pit(because nonvenomous species like pythons and boas also utilize heat sensing pits), look for a very thick body, large head, and oblong or cat-like eyes.

The coral snake is actually the most venomous snake in North America and follows none of the traditional rules. It is slender, no pits, and has round eyes. There a few species that try to mimic the coral snake, like the scarlet king snake. There are mnemonic devices to help sort it out: “red on black, won’t hurt jack; red on yellow, kills a fellow” is the one i learned growing up.

I have only ever come across the cottonmouth(accidentally caught one as a kid, thinking it was a water snake…oops), and the copperhead. Call me crazy, but I have always wanted to see a rattlesnake and especially a coral snake in the wild.

When it comes to your cuddly nonvenomous pest control snakes, there are quite a few that are commonly found, and it depends on where you live.

Garter snakes are a great choice for introducing kids to slithering reptiles.

Growing up in South Carolina, the most common snakes I found were corn snakes, green snakes, garter snakes, water snakes, king snakes, rat snakes, black racers and pine snakes. For a full list of SC snakes, check out this resource.

See, told you they are cuddly. 😉

Here in Pennsylvania, you may readily spot the Eastern garter snake, Northern water snake, Eastern rat snake, Northern ring-necked snake, Northern red-bellied snake, Eastern milksnake, Northern brown snake, and the Northern black racer. There are several other species which are less common and are either endangered or species of special concern. I have only had the pleasure of encountering the garter and water snakes but am looking forward to finding some of the others. For a full list of Pennsylvania snakes, with pictures and useful information, check out the PA Herps page.

Hopefully this will help you to determine whether the snake in your backyard is worth fussing over. If they look like the ones I have pictured or don’t meet any of the venomous guidelines, please let it be, they are there to help!

Until next time, happy herping, ya’ll!

 

Wildlife Wednesday: Crooked Creek

*DISCLAIMER* I was recently made aware that catching, handling, or possessing reptiles and amphibians in Pennsylvania without a fishing license is considered unlawful; therefore I will not be taking the kids on any more outings until I can purchase the required documentation. We respect the law here at ‘lil Burghers, however posts written about previous outings will still be published, as this knowledge was not yet made clear to me. I learned a valuable lesson, and since growing up in South Carolina, to my knowledge you did not need a license to catch frogs and snakes, especially for the purpose of study and release, this is all news to me.

This week’s adventure takes us to Crooked Creek State Park. We were accompanied by some friends and their kids. I had only been to this park once before and we didn’t do much exploring so I had no idea what to expect. On this particular day we found a few creatures I had never encountered before!

When we first arrived I suggested starting down at the lake by a boat launch area. We brought a few nets and bunch of buckets (thanks to our kids’ love of pretzels and cheeseballs) and started poking around a little creek.

The kids spotted several minnows and fry but all proved too quick for our small nets. It was very muddy and wet but that did not deter these brave explorers from splashing right in. Even Ava and Isla wanted to get into the action and at a few points tried to follow me into the muck (I was wearing water shoes, they were totally unprepared). Ava loved holding the net and trying to catch all the things!

As I was checking under rocks I heard a kid scream and a lot of excitement so I rushed over to see what happened. They were all pointing in the creek and yelling various “EEEEEWWWWW” “What is that thing!?!” “Kill it with fire”…ok maybe not that last one, but man just look at it, it’s pretty gnarly. Floating in the current was this wicked looking Crane Fly larvae.

After everyone’s shoes were thoroughly soaked, we decided a nice dry hike was in order. As we meandered along the trail we turned over rocks and logs and found many earthworms and slugs. I am so proud of the kids’ endurance, especially the little ones.

We stopped in a clearing and watched in awe as several Bald Eagles soared overhead. I still get chills thinking about it; ‘Merica! Amiright!?!

As we marched on, one of the little girls yelled that she found something. There, in the middle of the trail, was the biggest Millipede I have ever seen. Once she spotted one, then we all started to find them. They are so cool but I warned for them not to touch them with their hands. Millipedes cannot bite or sting, but when threatened, they will first roll into a coil, not unlike a rolie-polie. Their second line of defense is to secrete a toxin from the sides of its body that can result in a skin irritation and in more severe cases, nausea and vomiting.

The kids were growing tired of the trail so we headed back and one of our friends suggested that we check out the Environmental Learning Center. Unfortunately, we arrived to find the building closed, however we were not to be dissuaded. There was a perfectly nice garden to walk around and as I turned over a few pieces of wood this little emerald beauty scurried out.

Our friend pointed out a trail through the woods surrounding the center so we gathered the troops and got to steppin. I always love just simply being in nature, admiring all of the natural beauty around us. Too often we take it for granted. More slugs and worms were found, as well as some nice size locust. All of a sudden, the familiar screech of a very excited little girl yelling “SNAIIIIILLLLLS!”. Sure enough, there were snails EVERYWHERE! I had to watch my step so as not to crush the poor little gastropods.

As we made our way back to the cars, I smiled watching the kids running together, enjoying the wonders of nature and the company of good friends. I will admit, I was slightly disappointed that we did not discover some more impressive animals for the children to see, but that is also the beauty of nature. To quote Forrest Gump’s mama, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. Until next week, happy herping, Ya’ll!

Friendshipping

Friendshipping is hard when you’re a kid, but it’s downright tough as an adult. It’s 2017 and I feel like I am learning it all over again, right alongside the kids.

As an adult, it’s not as simple as finding someone who likes the same color as you or also pulls all the cheese and toppings of their pizza. It is a lot of give and take. Coordinating schedules and kids and diets and interests and opinions and political views and relationship statuses. Finding someone who understands that sometimes you might say something awkward, might not return a text for days, might not pickup the phone when you really do need someone to talk to.

It’s downright tough, this friendshipping as an adult thing.

I don’t know about you, but I am constantly seeing streams of happy faces of friends enjoying time together and it makes me wonder – how do they find the time and make it work? 

It’s because the ones that make it work, the ones that meet in the middle and hold your hand, these are the precious ones. They are the ones that get you even when you cannot do anything more than sob into the phone. They are the ones who know when you say you want ice cream get you ice cream. They are the ones who make this adulting friendshipping thing not so tough after all.

Kids – you’ve got built in best friends with each other. Don’t forget that, but find you some real, genuine, loving friends. They may be in your life for a season. You might lose them all too soon. Or who knows, you might still be friends with them 30 years later. Hold those hands tightly.

Wildlife Wednesday: Northmoreland Park

Last weekend, Evan and I camped out at Northmoreland Park with his Royal Rangers outpost. One of our Saturday activities was going down to the lake to fish. As soon as we got close to the water we spotted a snake swimming by the bank. While everyone else got started fishing, I stalked the Northern Water Snake from the shore, determined to catch it to show the kids. After a few misses, i thought I’d lost him, so I went to check on Evan. All of a sudden the serpent popped it’s head out of the water right in front of us. I got down on the ground and started to army crawl towards it as it neared the bank. When it’s head ducked around a curve in the bank, I made my move, grabbing its tail and hoisting it to shore. As I worked to corral the reptile it began striking at me and a crowd began to gather.

For such a harmless creature, they sure like to act tough! They have several ways of deterring predators. First is to flatten its body out to make itself look big and intimidating. When it does this, the head takes on the familiar diamond shape of it’s venomous relatives. The second line of defense is to strike. I know, I know, but Greg, you said they are harmless. I suppose it should be said that they are not venomous, but that doesn’t mean they can’t bite. They have small teeth and a bite can be a bit painful, but are mere flesh-wounds. The snake’s third route to ward off predators is pretty crappy, literally; they poop on you, and it smells awesome! That is it, that’s all the more danger a water snake poses to humans.

After showing off the snake, I decided it had been stressed enough for one day so I placed it back in the water and off it swam. I enjoy observing wild animals up close, but you always need to be aware of the animal’s stress level. Many animals can basically be scared to death so it is usually wise to keep your encounters brief.

The next day, while the rest of our group left the park, Evan and I returned to the lake to explore some more. When we got there the lake was packed with people and we soon found out there was a fishing derby going on. I was a little bummed because I figured surely all these people would scare any wildlife away; Boy was I wrong.

We decided to walk all the way around the lake since the near side was very crowded. Once we got to the other side, Evan began to notice frogs by the bank. Several attempts at capture proved futile and only resulted in a muddy shoe. We walked through a beautiful wooded area and watched chipmunks scurry across the trail. When we got out of the woods we returned to the lake’s edge and were greeted by a family of geese. The young goslings were very rowdy and splashed about; it was rather entertaining.

As we scanned the shoreline I noticed a frog and as I bent down to make my move, something else caught my eye. There, lying in the mud was the cutest baby snapping turtle! I decided that the turtle was easier pickins and a rarer find. With a precise grab, and to the delight of Evan and a little girl fishing with her family nearby, I lifted the turtle out of the water by its rigid tail. As far as snapping turtles go, this little guy was very well behaved.

snapping turtle
Evan and a baby Snapping Turtle

Remember how I told you that I am not a Zoologist, well it showed in my knowledge of handling snapping turtles. While holding the turtle by it’s tail may be the safest option for us, it can do serious damage to the turtle’s tail and/or vertebral column. The safest way to handle a snapping turtle is to hold it by its shell just above the hind legs. Hopefully this little guy is ok and we didn’t do too much harm. :-/

After putting the turtle back in the water and watching him disappear into the mud, we moved on down the bank. As we peered into the shallows we came across a father and daughter fishing who inquired about our mission. They informed us that they had encountered a snake up on the trail nearby. After discussing our other findings, we headed over to the last known location of the snake. We walked through the tall grass alongside the trail and Evan spotted a cool snail.

As we walked, his snail was soon forgotten when a pretty little garter snake went slithering through the grass by our feet. I carefully picked up the snake and handed it to Evan. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen him smile so big!

Normally I try to catch and release the critters that we find, however garter snakes are beneficial to gardens and I have a slug problem in ours, so we brought it home with us.

As we continued our walk around the lake we came across a drake(male) mallard duck letting people come get extremely close. I thought this odd so I took a closer look, and down by the water’s edge was a mama mallard and her 8 little babies.

As we came back around to the front side of the lake we began encountering more fishermen. We also spotted lots of frogs sunning themselves along the shore. After missing a mammoth brown bullfrog I managed to snag a slightly smaller but equally beautiful green bullfrog.

We continued walking along the shore back towards the car, Evan insisting on showing off our catches to anyone who seemed interested. He played on the playground for a few minutes and we snapped a few pictures before letting the frog go.

As we left the park we both had huge grins plastered on our faces, knowing we had experienced some of nature’s treasures up close and personal. We talked about all the things we saw and looked forward to our next trip to Northmoreland Park.

If you live in Western PA and love critters and much as we do, I highly recommend checking out Northmoreland Park! Until next time, happy herping, ya’ll!

Welcome to Wildlife Wednesday

You guys, I freaking LOVE animals, especially reptiles and amphibians. When I was a kid, my heroes were Steve Irwin(The Crocodile Hunter) and Jeff Corwin and my dream was to be a herpetologist and discover a new species. I was always bringing some new animal home, whether it be frogs, turtles, lizards or snakes(much to my mother’s dismay). My mom would take me and my sister out for hours to local ponds and ditches with a bait net and we would swish it through the shallows to see what cool critters we could come up with. This is a tradition that I plan on continuing with my own children, so the ‘lil Burghers have decided to introduce a new series: Wildlife Wednesday.

wildlife wednesday

I am hoping to take the kids out at least once a week to explore local ponds, streams, lakes and parks. If you are local and have recommendations for places to explore or if you would like to join us on our adventures, please hit us up in the comments. My goal is to observe the beauty of our world, to educate and entertain our readers, but most of all, it will be a vital bonding experience with my children that I can cherish forever.

snapping turtle
Evan and a baby Snapping Turtle

I should also add that I am not a professional zoologist, but I have a fairly decent knowledge of the wildlife we will be encountering and have many years of experience catching and handling them. Especially when it comes to snakes, please use caution; and kids, never pick up a wild snake by yourself. I will be going over snake guidelines in another post, including how to tell if that snake in your yard is venomous, or just harmless pest control.

I truly believe that it is important to learn all we can about these beautiful creatures so that we can learn to protect them for generations to come. Maybe we will even inspire some of you to go and check out the critters in your own backyard.

Until next week, happy herping, ya’ll!

{Be sure to follow along with Wildlife Wednesday on social media with #wildlifewednesday & #lilburghers for extra content!}